Are you looking for a good technology for data discovery? This article explains the software tool that helps to analyze the data. That is OLAP. Read out the article to get more information about online analytical processing.


Online analytical processing (OLAP) is a category of software tools that provides an analysis of data stored in a database. OLAP tools enable users to analyze different dimensions of multidimensional data.

For example, it provides time series and trend analysis views. The chief component of OLAP is the OLAP server, which sits between a client and a database management system (DBMS), and which understands how data is organized in the database and has special functions for analyzing the data.

There are OLAP servers available for nearly all the major database systems.

It is more important to know about the OLAP cube. The OLAP cube is a data structure that allows you to analyze data very quickly.

In the OLAP cube, numeric facts (measures) are categorized by dimensions. OLAP holds multidimensional data. The OLAP cube helps to store and analyze this multidimensional data.

Advantages of Online Analytical Processing

  •  Helps to get all the data together to create accurate and quick information about the business. 
  • Helps to analyze the time series
  • Provides platform for all type of business including planning, budgeting, forecasting, financial reporting, data warehouse reporting
  • Allows users to do compatible calculations
  • Allows users to divide big cube into dice cube data by several dimensions, measures, and filters 
  • Helps the end-users to analyze data in multiple dimensions so that they make better decisions in business

Disadvantages of Online Analytical Processing

  • It is difficult to have a large number of dimensions in a single OLPA cube
  • Snowflake schema required for organizing data is complex to implement
  • Modification of an OLAP cube requires a full update of the cube that consumes more time 

Analytical operations in Online analytical processing

Generally, OLAP has four basic analytical operations.

Roll-up operation: It is also called ‘aggregation’. We can perform this operation in two ways

  • Reduction of dimension: It is the system in which the cube reduces its dimension.
  • Climbing up concept hierarchy. It is the system of grouping things based on their level.
Roll Up on Geography from cities to country

Above image shows the roll up operation.

  • Here cities New York and Washington rolled up into USA
  • The sales figures of the cities were 400 and 550 and became 950 after rolled up

Drill-down operation: It is the opposite process of roll-up. It performs in 2 ways

  • Increasing of dimension
  • Climbing down the concept hierarchy
Drill Down on time(From Quarter to Month)

This image is showing drill down operation

  • Quarter 1 is divided into months January, February, and March
  • Months dimension is added

Slice and dice operation: In slice operation, one dimension is selected and a subcube is created. In dice operation, two or more dimensions are selected and subcubes are created.

Pivot operation: In this operation, to provide a substitute presentation of data, you need to rotate the data axes.

What are the main types of Online Analytical Processing?

Three main types of Online analytical processing are

  1. Relational OLAP (ROLAP): In this type, data is stored in a relational database. It allows us to analyze multidimensional data. In relational OLAP, data accuracy is very high. It offers expandability. That means it manages a large amount of data even when the data is increasing. Some disadvantages are also there with this type. It requires more manpower, hardware, and software. It has the lowest query performance system.
  2. Multidimensional OLAP (MOLAP): It is cube-based, multidimensional array structured data storage. In this system, computation is very fast.
  3. Hybrid OLAP (HOLAP): This is the combination of relational OLAP and multidimensional OLAP. Hence in this system expandability is more and computation is fast. It stores aggregated data in a multidimensional cube and detailed information in a relational database.

Apart from these three main types, some other types are given below.

Web OLAP (WOLAP): This is based on a web browser. In Web OLAP, OLAP application is available by the web browser. It is a three-tier architecture that includes a database server, client, and an interface. This application does not require deployment in the client’s system. It requires only a web browser and a network connection.

Desktop OLAP (DOLAP): In this system, the user can use his desktop and can download the data from the source.

Mobile OLAP (MOLAP): User can access data through mobiles.

Spatial OLAP (SOLAP): It allows users to explore the data that resides in the spatial database easily and quickly.

Get more definitions about online analytical processing (OLAP) and other ERP related terms here.


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